Soft Tissue Infections in Parenteral Drug Abusers

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Thirty-four parenteral drug abusers admitted with soft tissue infections underwent bacteriologic and immunologic evaluation. Staphylococcus aureus and beta hemolytic streptococci were the most common organisms recovered. Enteric gram negative aerobes and oral flora were common and enteric anaerobes rare. Absolute lymphopenia and elevations in the IgA, IgG and IgM fractions of the immunoglobulins were common as were false positive VDRL examinations. Cutaneous anergy was found in 83% of the group and 70% of a simultaneously noninfected addict group. Staphylococcal carriage was frequent. Because of variation in the flora between this and other reported groups, ongoing bacteriologic surveillance could be a useful guide to initial antibiotic therapy. Differences in the pattern of immune reaction in this group when compared to different addict groups suggest a difference in antigenic stimulation, possibly as a result of differences in bacteriologic exposure.

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